The trouble with business cards…

If you’re speaking at events or exhibiting where you collect attendees business cards, then you’ll be familiar with this problem. Extracting the relevant contact data from those valuable cards into your CRM or email list is a time-consuming not to speak of vulnerable to errors as you or your assistant types them up.  This article explores alternative business card capture. More specifically, online alternatives to capturing business card details from the potential interested people in the room and gives 4 simple actions that you need to do in preparation to make it all happen seamlessly leaving you free to get on with the business of speaking!

When you’re the speaker

The first scenario is you’re a speaker at an event that you’ve been invited to speak at. You don’t know who’s attending so obviously it’s very desirable to have everyone’s contact details so you can follow up or add them to your email marketing system. You might ask everyone to give you a business card afterwards to get some freebie offer related to what you’ve been speaking about, which is more than likely related to the services or products you sell.

Instead of asking for people’s business cards you could as part of your presentation end on a slide which gives them the URL of a special dedicated web page where all they can do is opt-in to your special freebie (and therefore onto your list). Make sure the page is mobile-friendly and that the URL is easy and short, that way attendees (and most people have smart phones) will want to do this now. In fact if you tell them to do it now, they will. People are the most motivated to take action while they’re in the ‘moment’ of being wowed by your talk.

When you’ve got a stand

The second scenario is you’ve got a table or stand at an event and in order to get contacts, you might have a fish bowl with a sign that if people drop their business card in the bowl they’ll be entered into a prize draw and that every entry will receive a useful free gift, so everyone’s a winner or a combination of that.

In any event, you could end up with quite a few cards you would then have to manually add to your email list so they could receive the follow up. Tedious and time-consuming task or expensive if you outsource it, plus there’s a risk that data will be entered incorrectly.

The solution – have people enter their own details into a form on your iPad or smartphone on your stand. You may want to keep a string tied to it so no-one walks off with it if you’re likely to be swamped with visitors. There’s an app called iCapture that syncs with most main email marketing tools, including Constant Contact – saves you the hassle of typing up cards and the associated problems with that.

Boom! Simple.

In both instances, you can see that a bit of preparation work is needed in advance of the event. However, once you’ve set it up for one event, you could feasibly use the same set up for other events or just duplicate it.

Here’s what you need to prepare in advance:-

  1. The Free Goody – you may already have a PDF freebie that your potential customers find useful, so either use the same or repurpose it to fit the topic of your event.
  2. The List – I’m talking about the list in your email marketing tool (e.g. Constant Contact) – I would set up a fresh list for each event because then you can set up a series of autoresponders that refer specifically to things that happened at that particular event, which makes the recipient feel less like they’ve been added to your general list.
  3. An Autoresponder – this will be an email series that gets triggered by someone signing up (whether they typed the URL on their phone and filled in their name and email, or filled in the form on your iPad). Make sure you mention the particular event and include the freebie or link to the freebie that you promised them
  4. The Sign Up Form – Make the form simple (and mobile friendly). The minimum you need is an email address. Nice to have is their first name because then you can personalise the emails. Anything else makes the form too long and complicated and you risk people thinking ‘why do they need those details’ and ‘am I going to get plagued by some unwanted sales call’ so they get suspicious of your motives and don’t bother and you don’t want to put any obstacles to people signing up. And to be perfectly frank, you don’t need any extra information at this stage. You have an email to start the ‘relationship’; further down the line when they express an interest in your service or product, you can always get more details then, which feels far more natural and appropriate.

So there you have it – a simple alternative way to collecting and collating people’s business cards that doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed with a stack of business cards to enter into your CRM system.

  • The contacts you’ve made get an instant response by email satisfying their need for your free goody.
  • You’ve got their details nicely stowed in your email marketing tool.
  • You’ve pre-empted in the sign up process that they’re going to get your newsletter as well.
  • They’re in your funnel.

Simple.

Next step.

Sound like a system you’d like to have in your processes but worried that setting this up is too technical? Then have a chat with me, because setting up these kind of systems is what I love doing.

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